Monday, May 28, 2012

The Embarrassing Kissing Cave

I used to try not to be an embarrassing parent, but no matter what I did, I still wasn't cool.  So, I've given up trying to be a cool parent and strive to be an embarrassing parent. It's a lot easier.  How do I embarrass my kids? I wear sunglasses. I stretch at the gym after I work out. I write romance novels, a hobby which my son considers to be extremely embarrassing. Even worse, I named a character after one of my children, which I guess is also extremely embarrassing.

For Memorial Day, we took an embarrassing day trip. We visited the place where Grandma and Grandpa had their first kiss.  Here it is:

That's right. My in-laws had their first kiss in this cave.  Cool, huh?  Well, I thought so.  The grandkids did too, but they didn't want to admit it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop

The winner will receive a copy of a clean Romance book.  You can choose from among the following three books:

Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale by me

Or Olivia by Julie Wright

Or Of Grace and Chocolate by Krista Lynne Jensen

Please fill out the form below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life History Video Interviews

One of the smartest things my husband and I ever did was to videotape some of our relatives telling us about their lives. My dad (shown above in a YouTube clip) loved his two-hour long interview.  My kids have loved watching it and learning more about his life.

My grandma told us she didn't want to be videotaped.  She only wanted us to audiotape her.  Fortunately, grandma thought the camcorder my husband held was a tape recorder. Now that she's gone, we treasure the beautiful video of Grandma telling us about her life.

My husband's father passed away unexpectedly three years ago.  I'm glad we'd taken the time to do a short, informal interview with him, so my kids can remember him better.

Here's some lessons we've learned about Video Life History Interviews:

Just do it. Don't wait for the perfect time.  You also don't need perfect equipment. 
Choose a simple background.

Provide enough light.  Bring in a couple of extra lamps if you're indoors.  Outdoor shots generally work best right after the sun rises or right before it sets.

Try to minimize background noises.  This means turning off appliances and making sure the kids stay quiet. Of course, sometimes a little background noise makes the video better.  In my grandma's interview, it's fun to hear the sounds of sandhill cranes interrupting part of the interview.

Provide a list of interview questions before the interview.  We found a list of interview questions in the book Touching Tomorrow by Mary LoVerde.  My relatives chose the questions they wanted to answer and thought about what they were going to say before we did the interview.  Here are a few sample questions:

What were you like as a child?

What was your school like?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What did you do for fun?

What were you like as a teenager?

Tell me about your grandparents.

How did you meet your spouse?

What is the hardest thing you ever had to go through?

What was the happiest time in your life?

How did you choose your career?

What is something you'd like your loved ones to learn from you?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview with Amanda Sowards

I've recently gotten to know a new author, A.L. Sowards, who wrote Espionage.  I'm interviewing her on my blog, and she's interviewing me on hers. Her real name is Amanda, not Al like I thought at first.  (Hey, she wrote a book about war, so Al would make sense wouldn't it?)

I read that you like to swim. What are your other hobbies?
Reading and writing are big. I also spend a lot of time entertaining toddlers with horsey rides, board books, and megablocks.

Espionage takes place in the 1940s at the time of World War II.  Where did you find inspiration for your details and settings?
The idea actually started in a high school history class. Our teacher told us about the D-day deception schemes the allies were using to throw the Germans off and I thought it was so cool (like something out of a Tom Clancy novel, only real). The rest of the story grew from there. Most of my research came from books, but some from the internet too.

How do you find time to write?
I honestly wish I had more time to write (I’m sure most authors say that). I try to write while my children are napping or in bed at night.

What books have you read lately that you liked?
I just finished The Bicycle Runner, by G. Franco Romagnoli. It’s not a completely clean read, but it was an interesting story and I loved his writing style. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is another recent read, and it was amazing. Not long ago I picked up Night of the Fox, by Jack Higgins, and that was an enjoyable read. I used to read a lot of Jack Higgins, so it was fun to pick one of his books up again. I also really enjoyed some of the books that were Whitney finalists, especially: Rearview Mirror, by Stephanie Black, Bloodbourne, by Gregg Luke, Smokescreen, by Traci Hunter Abramson, and The Pharoah’s Daughter, by N.C. Campbell (I wasn’t able to read all the finalists, so I’m sure there are other fantastic books among the nominees). I’ve also read A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, and The Last Battle, all by Cornelius Ryan over the last two years. I highly recommend all of them if you like WWII military history.

What are your favorite movies?  World War II era movies?
I love The Hunt for Red October, Stardust, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the original Star Wars trilogy. I do really enjoy WWII movies. Among my favorites dealing with that era are Where Eagles Dare, The Great Escape, and Saints and Soldiers (I’m excited for Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed to come out in August, especially since I hear it deals with the 1944 southern France campaign, which happens to be the same campaign one of the characters in my second book is involved in). I also have a small collection of edited WWII movies, and I think Saving Private Ryan and Enemy at the Gate are excellent (at least the versions I’ve seen).

What advice do you have for other writers?
Don’t give up! But don’t feel bad about putting a project on the back burner for a while. Sometimes a little space from the manuscript will make it easier to ruthlessly edit and improve it. And read books on writing, attend conferences, or join a critique group.

As the mother of twins, you’ve probably learned a few tricks to save your time and sanity.  Do you have any you want to share?
You know that primary song that says “Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday?” I never really got that song until I had 9am church and two new babies. We’d get clothes out the day before, pack two diaper bags, and pray really hard for a decent night’s sleep.
I had hubby do the grocery shopping for a long time after the twins came along, so I guess my trick is to make my husband do it! I do more shopping now, but I keep mostly to stores that have shopping carts with two places to strap kids in.
Other than that, sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time. Or one hour at a time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Anniversary Get-Away

You know how sometimes you just need to get away?  It had been a long time since my husband and I took some R and R.  He's been the bishop for almost three years now, and it was all starting to get to me. So we escaped for our 18th anniversary.  Okay, so we only traveled fifteen miles away, but it was still a great break.  And no one called his cell phone for a whole 36 hours!

It's funny how you can live in the same place for a long time without knowing about some of its treasures.  A friend told us she'd stayed at the Little America hotel in town and that it was nice.  We'd passed the place hundreds of times.  It didn't look that impressive, but the price was right, so I made the reservation.  They were having a convention of college students, so our room got upgraded to something more luxurious for the same price.  We also got a sneak peek of Ed and Lois Smart at the cafe the next morning.  And they have the best hotel pool ever.  You can swim from the warm inside pool to the warm outside pool.  Other than that, we saw an art show, went to the temple, and shopped.

My mother-in-law stayed with the kids, so they weren't calling every few minutes to complain about each other.  We didn't even hear about the toilet overflowing until we got home. Kudos to my fifteen year old son for cleaning that up.